The 10th Int. Fair Trade Towns conference will be held in Baskinta, Lebanon on 1 – 3 July 2016. This will be the 1st time the conference will be held in the global south. It is hoped it will inspire and motivate a budding Fair Trade Towns movement across the Middle East and North Africa and send a powerful message redefining the relationship between the North and the South from a one-way to a two-way relationship.
The theme of the conference will be ‘Building Bridges through Fair Trade’ and reflect how Fair Trade Towns in Lebanon have created social and economic links between communities of different sects and faiths. This has led to the exchange of products, the bringing together of campaigners across previous divides and the development of a platform for solidarity and mutual support. In a country like Lebanon that has 18 different sects, and with more than a quarter of its population made up of refugees fleeing from surrounding countries ‘Building Bridges’ between different communities is a much needed side effect of the Fair Trade Town campaigns. It became a way to exchange experiences and unite efforts to fight for a common goal and the improvement of their own communities.
Menjez (North Lebanon) was the first self-proclaimed Fair Trade Town in Lebanon making a self-declaration on World Fair Trade Day (9 May) 2013. In 2014, Fair Trade Lebanon received funding to establish 10 officially recognized Fair Trade Towns across Lebanon by the end of 2015; Menjez, Baskinta, Ferzol, Abra, Saidoun, Mhaidthe, Bissariye, Kfar Tebnit, Qleyaa and Ain Ebel. The host for the conference, Baskinta has a very active campaign that was able to mobilize different stakeholders in the community, through the encouragement and support of a local association called ‘Baskinta Baytouna’ involved in environmental issues, such as the implementation of a separation-at-source recycling programme.
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